Beth Warning, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, AHI(AMT), ASCLS Region IV Director

Linda Gorman befriended author Beth Warning at the 2001 CLEC. Through their friendship, Beth was introduced to more and more opportunities within ASCLS.

At one time or another, you may have been asked why you chose ASCLS as your professional society, considering we have several from which to choose. Indulge me for a moment while I share my story.

In 2001, I was promoted to education coordinator (meaning I was the figure head for our MLS program, until I completed my master’s degree to become program director) at my hospital. I joined ASCLS then to take advantage of the member discount for the Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference (CLEC) in St. Louis. That’s it … no grand revelation, no realization to “make a difference”—just something asked of me by my employer to help in being fiscally responsible to sponsor my attendance at the meeting.

It was at CLEC that I was approached—sought out, really—by educators from the University of Kentucky, specifically, Dr. Linda Gorman. She befriended me and encouraged me to attend a state meeting with the Kentucky Society of Clinical Laboratory Science (KSCLS). As they say, the rest is history!

How I Magically Got Involved in ASCLS

With Linda as a mentor, I became involved at the state level. It was a slow process, as I was rearing a young family and working on a master’s degree. My initial involvement consisted of attending the state meeting and attending CLEC on a regular basis. It wasn’t until 2005 that I attended the ASCLS Annual Meeting in Orlando, where perhaps it was the “Disney magic” that forever changed my ASCLS path.

I was attending as the president elect-elect for KSCLS (that’s Kentucky by the way) and had a room at the conference hotel. My new friend, Linda, had booked a room with a roommate, and unfortunately, their room had only a king bed. Here is where the magic comes into play … I had a room with two double beds that happened to adjoin the room occupied by Linda! So, from there on Linda and I became roomies at ASCLS meetings—CLEC, the Annual Meeting, Legislative Symposium, anywhere, and everywhere.

Through my friendship with Linda, I was introduced to more and more opportunities within ASCLS. The randomness of being a delegate to one Annual Meeting (where I was asked to attend a few committee meetings that might interest me) found me seated in a conference room listening to the activities of the Professional Affairs Committee (now the Promotion of the Profession Committee) led by Suzie Zanto. Within a year, I was a member of the committee under Shirlyn McKenzie, and eventually continued on as chair, and then board liaison for the PPC.

And you are probably asking, how does this tie into my involvement in ASCLS? Easy. This goes to show it only takes one person to talk with another person to encourage and support you on your ASCLS journey. Through all of this, I credit Linda Gorman for taking me under her wing, mentoring me in all things ASCLS—chatting over dinner, introducing me to other ASCLS members, or, most often, late night slumber party-like chats in our hotel room asking questions, learning, and maneuvering through the various committees and board reports in support of our profession.

Colleagues Become Family

Through continued involvement in KSCLS, I met laboratorians and educators throughout the state. We continue to reunite annually at CLEC, the Annual Meeting, or state meetings and pick up our friendship where we left off, never missing a beat to catch up with work, friends, and family. Annual Meetings are like family reunions—there were even times when we visited local attractions at host cities (the Denver Mint, the White House, SeaWorld, and shopping along the Magnificent Mile). There were lunches held at destinations halfway between home and Louisville, and there were dinners together when passing through Lexington. Annual Christmas cards are exchanged, dealing with aging parents discussed, and weddings celebrated. Just recently an event downstate had me bumming a room off Linda for one night, somewhat to save on hotel costs, but mainly just to catch up on life.

I could go on and on about other mentors and friends I have gained through ASCLS, but for fear of omitting someone, I won’t name names, but I hope each of you know the profound impact you have had on my involvement in our Society. I have found that ASCLS is one big family … we all have the commonality of a shared passion for the profession. We all have lives outside of our volunteer positions but make ASCLS a priority when it comes to advocacy and involvement.

The Family Grows

And my ASCLS story doesn’t stop here. Now as Region IV director, I have the opportunity to meet new people, and to mentor and befriend those I may not have engaged with had it not been for state and regional meetings. I value my fellow board members as my extended family; my regional and constituent society members, my “new” extended family within the states of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana—people I look forward to seeing and catching up with when we have the opportunity to be together. I can say that I have friends and colleagues in most of the 50 states and Puerto Rico. As an educator, I have been fortunate to actively engage my students in the profession by attendance at both state and national meetings and am proud to have had students serve as vice chair for the Developing Professionals Forum and as regional developing professional representatives. This is mentoring at a different level, by enhancing their interest and advocacy for activities sponsored through our professional Society.

That’s my ASCLS story about my ASCLS family. My challenge to you is to consider where you are, where you came from, and what “family” was there to support you. Where do your ASCLS roots originate? How wide are your ASCLS family tree branches? Who are you connected to? Better yet, who have you connected with to be involved in your ASCLS family? My hope is that your story doesn’t end here, and that you continue to foster, nurture, share, and mentor others into the profession, as Linda says, for the cycle to continue.

I found this quote to be spot on in terms of my ASCLS story and hope that you will continue to bring friends, colleagues, and coworkers into our family.

“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”

– Graham Greene

Beth Warning is Assistant Professor in the Medical Laboratory Science Program at the University of Cincinnati-College of Allied Health Sciences.